For its second electric vehicle, Nissan is playing it safe by choosing a segment with global appeal.
Last week at the Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan unwrapped the Ariya, a near-production concept of a Rogue-sized electric crossover. It arrives nearly a decade after the automaker popularized EVs with its battery-powered Leaf hatchback.
A production version of the five-seater could arrive in U.S. stores in 2021. U.S. dealers who were briefed on the product this year have said the new EV will have a 300-mile battery range and go from 0 to 60 mph in under five seconds.
The Ariya is designed on a new EV platform and has the exterior proportions of a compact Rogue, but the interior space of a midsize Murano, a feat made possible by the new vehicle's "skateboard" chassis and flat-floor design.
"We were able to push the wheels really to the outside; the overhangs are very short, and that gives an impressive cabin length," Ivan Espinosa, Nissan's corporate vice president of global product strategy, told Automotive News at the show. "You feel like you're in a D-segment-class car when ... sizewise the car is closer to the C segment."
The Ariya's dual-motor system delivers high torque, precision handling and stability by optimizing power delivery to each of the four wheels. Power to the motors can be independently controlled, while torque to the left and right wheels can be further modulated through coordinated braking.
While labeled a concept, the Ariya is designed with the practicality of a soon-to-be production vehicle. The exterior design is highlighted by wide front fenders, rear fender flares, super-slim LED headlights and a steeply raked C-pillar.
The Ariya ditches the conventional grille for what Nissan describes as a "shield." In driving mode, a 3D illumination reveals Nissan's V-motion design signature.
Its dashboard eschews conventional dials and knobs for a mostly digital interface. The only physical controls are the start button, a single knob to operate the crossover's 12.3-inch display monitor, and climate controls, which are ingrained into the instrument panel's genuine-wood lower section.
The digital dashboard stays hidden when the vehicle is turned off. Pushing the start button brings the high-resolution display to life and reveals haptic touch controls along the instrument panel.